What is Astroturfing?
Astroturfing is a marketing and public relations approach that uses a false picture of naturalness and spontaneity to gain support and virality. It is a frequent form of campaign used by political parties and huge corporations, among others, to mislead public opinion using modern technology and digital media.
The desire to portray corporate and non-local efforts as local has resulted in a practice known as astroturfing, in which large corporations or wealthy individuals use “front groups” that appear to be local activist groups but are primarily funded and organized by national corporations or wealthy individuals from elsewhere.
Consider the following when determining whether an organization is astroturfing:
Was it supported by a corporate, a national foundation, or local funds?
Who established it (Was it established locally, and by whom?)
What interest would that group have in the proposed action or effort (for example, financial or tied to greater social concerns?)What constitutes astroturfing is defined on a sliding scale. A locally established project that receives mostly national funding is (a little) less astro-turfy than a corporation-based institution. A foundation-funded program dedicated to a greater societal aim (such as poverty eradication) is less astroturfy than a firm spending money to improve its stock price or eliminate rules that limit it. In general, what matters most is if the organization’s reality matches the story it is telling the public.
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